Southern Man

Album: After The Gold Rush (1970)
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  • This song is about racism in the American South, with references to slavery and the Ku Klux Klan. Young claimed the song was more about the civil rights movement than the South in particular, but many Southern men (and women) didn't appreciate the generalization. In his 2012 biography Waging Heavy Peace, Young apologized for the song, writing: "I don't like my words when I listen to it. They are accusatory and condescending, not fully thought out, and too easy to misconstrue."
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd wrote "Sweet Home Alabama" as a response to this song. Young is mentioned in the line, "I hope Neil Young will remember, a Southern man don't need him around anyhow." Lynyrd Skynyrd were big fans of Young. "Sweet Home Alabama" was meant as a good-natured answer to "Southern Man," explaining the good things about Alabama. Skynyrd lead singer Ronnie Van Zandt often wore Neil Young T-shirts while performing.

    Young was quite happy with "Sweet Home Alabama." He said, "They play like they mean it, I'm proud to have my name in a song like theirs."

    After the release of "Sweet Home Alabama," Neil Young wrote several songs for Lynyrd Skynyrd as means of reconciliation, including his eventual standby, "Powderfinger." However, the band had their infamous plane crash in 1977 before they could use the songs, and Young ended up keeping them for himself.
  • In the liner notes for his greatest hits album Decade, Young wrote: "This song could have been written on a civil rights march after stopping off to watch Gone With The Wind at a local theater."
  • Young was backed by his band Crazy Horse on this track:

    Danny Whitten - guitar
    Jack Nitzsche - piano
    Nils Lofgren - guitar
    Billy Talbot - bass
    Ralph Molina - drums

    Nils Lofgren, a guitarist by trade, played piano on this song, an instrument he never played before After The Gold Rush. Young tasked Lofgren with playing piano as a "special trial," according to Jimmy McDonough's Shakey.

    In trying to get the piano down, Lofgren tapped into his background with accordion. "I used to be an accordion player, and accordion's all 'oompah oompah,'" he said. "So I started doin' the accordion thing on piano."

    To Lofgren's surprise, Young loved it.

    "That's the sound I was looking for," Young said. "I didn't want to hear a bunch of f--kin' licks. I don't like musicians playing licks."
  • Young summed up the alleged "feud" instigated between him and Lynyrd Skynyrd in a 1995 interview with Mojo Magazine: "Oh, they didn't really put me down! But then again, maybe they did! (laughs) But not in a way that matters. S--t, I think 'Sweet Home Alabama' is a great song. I've actually performed it live a couple of times myself."
  • Director Jonathan Demme first cut the opening sequence of his movie Philadelphia to this song in an effort to get Young to write a song like it for the film. Young gave him "Philadelphia," which he used over the end. Bruce Springsteen's contribution, "Streets Of Philadelphia," was used over the open.
  • Young was married to his first wife, Susan Acevedo, when he wrote this song in his Topanga Canyon studio. They were not getting along, and Young's foul mood translated into this track, which he described as "an angry song."
  • Randy Newman felt that "Southern Man" was one of Young's least interesting songs. "'Southern Man,' 'Alabama' are a little misguided," he said. "It's too easy a target. I don't think he knows enough about it."
  • During a filmed performance of this song at London's Hammersmith Odeon, Crazy Horse's Billy Talbot and Frank "Poncho" Sampredro dropped acid. "I can vividly remember 'Southern Man,'" Sampredro's said in Shakey. "It was wildly out of control - fast, slow, up, down, everywhere. At the end we were singing, I had my eyes closed and I hear this little tiny voice and I turn around and it was just me. Everybody else had quit even playing."
  • According to Graham Nash, Neil Young was doing double duty in 1969, rehearsing for the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young album Déjà Vu and then working on his solo album After The Gold Rush at night. His bandmates were unaware.

Comments: 85

  • An American Regular Guy Human from Western UsaI have loved NY ever since I saw him in concert. We should all be so cool.
  • Tony from New South WalesAmerica is stuffed what ever way you look at it
  • Anonymous@Hookahpookahalice from Alabama claims: "...there are way more racists in the North than in the South. Y'all forget that black hands raised many of us...cooked our meals and fed us, gave our baths, walked us to and from the bus stop..."

    Not to mention, they also picked your cotton and shined your shoes. Unfortunately, using black domestic servants doesn't = "not racist", any more than using black field hands = "not racist". My mother was partially raised by black nannies in Florida in the 1950's, who were paid next-to-nothing, and prohibited by the Southern Man's law from riding in the same seat of a city bus with her! Only upon relocating to Michigan did she discover racial equality.
  • Classic Rock from In The HouseNeil Young is a Canadian, born in Toronto. Our country, the USA, is "the southern man" he sings about. Oh, he recently was granted American citizenship that he says he's proud to be. Extreme hypocrisy, first entered the USA illegally... the guy is a freak and always has been. I was born, raised, and have always lived in the northern part of our entire great country. Hey Neil, Winnipeg doesn't want you around either. Ha!
  • Hookahpookahalice from AlabamaI was a bigger fan of Neil than Skynyrd...that said they are songs...they capture a "moment" in time. I've traveled everywhere and there are way more racists in the north than the south. Y'all forget that black hands raised many of us...cooked our meals and fed us, gave our baths, walked us to and from the bus stop, played aggravation and Monopoly and let us win. They bandaged boo-boos and kissed them along with letting us lick the frosting bowl. Melissa, "my Melissa" brought her children to our house and they became our friends. went to her house too . Oftentimes our fathers gifted them a car when the wife demanded a new one. They were as much a part of our family as we were. Those ladies would have died for us kids and we them. So for folks outside of the South to attempt to describe a society they know nothing about is ridiculous and as false as my nails. Neil Young was and is a gifted writer/musician."Southern Man" and "Alabama" are classic. In the same vein Sweet Home Alabama and Freebird are classic southern rock and are thought of just as highly in this region of the country. Racism in any form is wrong. Projection is real...liberals are very adept at it.
  • Andrew from Big BearActually, the comment Neil made in Waging Heavy Peace (I don't like my words when I listen to it. They are accusatory and condescending, not fully thought out, and too easy to misconstrue.") is about the song "Alabama" not "Southern Man".
  • Don from DuluthNeil Young is RIGHT on condemning slavery KKK, Jim Crow Laws and the opposition of civil right was a CRIME against humanity. Every segregation law in the American South from 1880 until 1950 was passed by a Democratic Legislature, Signed by Democratic Governor and enforced by Democratic officials.
    Not exception to this rule. The KKK was the "MILITARY ARM" (the boys in hood) of the Democratic Party. Just like ANTIFA now...
  • Music Lover from La.Neil Young should be apologizing for singing, PERIOD!
  • Apsa from AfricaDoes anyone know whether the KKK ever threatened to kill Young in case he'd come to a southern state, or not ? (due to either "Southern man" or "Alabama")
  • J. Clark from TexasBeing an African American I am a big fan of Neil Young, I love the song, Southern Man !!! I have purchased it, and play it very loudly on any given occasion.
  • Sue from Mount Helix, CaliforniaLittle Fyodor, from Denver: this one of the finest analyses of a song I have ever seen. Ever.
  • Charles from Lagrange, Georgia Robert that last part of your comment sounds very familiar.
  • Robert from Johns Creek, GaBorn and raised in the "deep South" I loved this song when it was released. I played it heavily on my 8-track along with so many other great songs from the 60's and 70's. I considered 4-way street to be one of my top favorite albums. Not offended in the least, I saw it as a song that condemned slavery and racism and I supported that wholeheartedly. Racism is a worldwide phenomenon and is hardly limited to the historical South. My parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents (all from the great state of Georgia) were not racists and I was taught that "red and yellow black and white, they are precious in His sight." I was raised to respect all people regardless of their race or nationality. I hated racism in all its forms and still do.
  • Dan from CaMy gosh you people. Is it really that hard to figure out? First off let me stress that the song is called Southern MAN not MEN meaning that the song is about a particular PERSON not PERSONS. NOT ALL Southern men but ONE specific PERSON who was a slave owner during that era. Neil was not around and in the south during that time BUT ALOT of your song writers get ideas and inspirations from whether it be by a book they read, a movie they saw or even a place they have been to, that's FACT. I dig songs by both groups but if Lynyrd was thinking that Neil was referring to ALL Southern men and decided to make a comeback song, then it's pure stupidity on their part because again,the song is Southern MAN not Southern MEN. Nobody knows if any members of Lynyrd were racist or not except for their friends, family, or acquaintances. If a music group ever decides to make a come back song in reply to a song they have heard, do yourself a BIG favor and get the words RIGHT. The song is called Southern MAN not Southern MEN. Neil has no reason to feel bad about the song. Its both a great song musically and a sad song which helps us not forget about HISTORY, things that actually DID happen in the past. Don't feel either bad or guilty Neil for writing and ANTI racist song. This country could do with MORE ANTI racist, war, predjudism, etc. as it is.
  • Jack from Mesa, Azfyodor from Denver you may have posted the best comment ever on anything anywhere.
  • Cory from Nashville, TnI'm as big a Skynyrd fan as they come, but I like both songs. Not being in any way racist I was initially disappointed when I first found out about Skynyrd playing with a Confederate flag backdrop at their shows, but knowing some of their other work (The Ballad of Curtis Loew is probably the best example) I didn't want to believe they were indeed racist. So, unlike many people, I decided to do some research on the matter to learn the truth. Here's a little excerpt from what I found - "We thought Neil was shooting all the ducks in order to kill one or two," Ronnie told Rolling Stone magazine regarding the creation of the answer song. The band felt that Young's lyrical content was representative of the shortsighted "Yankee" belief that all Southern men should be held accountable for the verbalizations and actions of a racist minority. While the rebuttal was heartfelt, Skynyrd held Neil Young in high regard for his musical achievements and they weren't intending to start a feud of any kind. "Neil is amazing, wonderful... a superstar," said Van Zant. "I showed the verse to Ed King and asked him what Neil might think. Ed said he'd dig it; he'd be laughing at it." Ed King says that the tune was not so much a direct attack on Young but just a good regional song. The song was well received but immediately put a stigma on the band as rednecks. Producer Al Kooper added. "Hey, you have to be more careful when you write a song now. But I'll tell you something -- Neil Young loved it. That's true, he told me so to my face." - Clearly, if anything, Skynyrd was simply trying to defend that not all southerners are racist, as many northerners (I'm from CT by the way), Canadians, and people all over the world immediately assume. I think its clear that, if we as a people are ever going to get past this nonsense, that we need a little of both types of thinking. Young accurately points out that there are problems, however Skynyrd shows that problems with a few don't mean everyone is that way. Unfortunately, for the uninformed and people not willing to look into it further after first impressions, Skynyrd gets a bad rap when they clearly don't deserve it.
  • Elle from Montreal, QcWow. To be honest, you have to be insane to think racism is "all in the past" in the south. The reason why a lot of people can't get over slavery or the way black people were treated before intergration or the Civil Rights Act is because it's not that different now. Look at the Tea Party. Look at all those people saying Barack Obama is from Kenya. Would they say that if he was white? I doubt it. Non-whites are still treated horribly all over North America. If I wasn't white, I'd be wary of us too. Not all Southerners are guilty of racism, obviously, but pretending there isn't any racism there isn't helping matters at all.
  • Frank from Sand Rock, AlFirst, I am still trying to figure out why all of the so-called African-Americans (so called because not all of the black people are rooted from Africa) are oppressed? I am from the south and I have never met a slave, nor someone who's mother or father was a slave. Get over it already!

    Second, Neil Young is a puss. All of this hype over a Canadian singing about racism in the south. Like Canada does not have any problems of their own...
    Skynard is awesome. Sweet Home Alabama is awesome. Southern Man is a good song (AND IT IS JUST A SONG). Black people (most of them) are awesome, as well as some white people.

    With Obama being President of America, The failing economy, the crushing rate of unemployment, I think we all need to move forward, and not dwell in the past.
  • Elmo from Southeast Missouri, MoJust to comment on the "lead singer" shouting profanity - it was not the late, great Ronnie Van Zant, but instead was his baby brother fronting basically a "cover band" with Gary Rossington and possibly Billy Powell on keyboards if he was still alive. Being a loyal fan of the original, and only - Marshall Tucker Band - I can say the current band called "Lynyrd Skynyrd" is only a front, and out there to make money off the dead. Rest in peace Ronnie, Allen, etc. Some of these cover bands need to hang it up. Ronnie did not, and would not, speak profanely of Neil Young.
  • Frankotank from Kc , MoThere are many comments in here that imply via the context that only white people can be racist. To any moron that believes this - go F yourself! I am white. The only racist people I EVER run into are black. You look down on someone, judge them, treat them badly or vote for them because of the color of their skin....then you are a racist. Plain and simple. It's not a one way street.
  • Mike from Matawan, NjI find it amusing the 'yankees' bashing the southerners here. Some here in the North like to pretend they were singing choruses of 'We Shall Overcome' during the '70's when forced busing was going on....or during the riots in EVERY MAJOR northern city after MLK was shot...or after the Rodney King verdict came down. I got news for ya goes on ALL over. And while we're on the subject, I'm sure that 96% of the Black Americans who voted for Obama all agreed with his policies, right? No rascism there. Like I goes on ALL over. No race is immune to it either.
  • Vanessa from Columbus, OhThis song used to bug me when I lived in the South and was the only Neil Young song I didn't like. However, we're kidding ourselves if we don't think it's still a huge issue there (not that the rest of the country gets off the hook.)

    I'd like to believe the story that Neil and Lynard Skynard were amicable about this. The Drive By Truckers wrote a great song about it, "Ronnie and Neil" where they claim Young and Van Zandt were so close that Neil was Ronnie's pallbearer. I kinda doubt that story but I like the sound of it regardless.
  • Spence from Brooklyn, NyI just wanted to say this is an awesome tune performed by Neil Young way before I was born. How can anyone say Neil Young is racist. He is one of my biggest musical influences. As for Lynyrd Skynyrd, they performed live on stage many times with a Conservative American flag, which means they don't look at African-Americans as people. It's just a traditional thing that was taught to them as well as most racist people. I still like some of Lynyrd Skynyrd's tunes, but it brakes my heart thay they think this way. (R. I. P. Ronnie Van Zandt)
  • Johnny from Muskogee, OkWe figured it all out, people. When my band does Sweet Home Alabama by request, we insert the phrase thus: "I hope Neil Young will remember.... Southern Man better keep your head, don't forget what your good book said...etc." Along with a chorus of Southern Man we then go back into the original sweet Home. Made the song not such a drag to have to play it for the 50,000th time by request!!!
  • D from Memphis, MsI am also from the south and have lived in most of it at one time or another, or I've known someone from everypart of it. The most important thing for other people to remember is not to judge everyone by a few! Also, I've lived all over the country, and let me tell you!!!! The Northern people are MUCH MORE racist than the southern people I've known! I'm in MN right now and it's just sad how racist they are where I am!
  • Vickie from Nashville, TnIn response to JON from COOKEVILLE, TN:
    I grew up in Mississippi & have lived most of my life in Nashville. In my family & circle of friends it was not common to 'sit around' and listen to 'buddies make jokes' that included the 'N' word. In fact it was considered low class. So if these are the caliber of friends you choose to hang with, perhaps you need new ones. Just don't leave the world with the idea that all of Tennessee think as you. Or maybe it's the difference in living in Cookeville and Nashville.
  • Sarah from Nashville, TnIn response to Howdy from Tulsa... the line in Sweet Home Alabama isn't "don't need him around ANYMORE" it's "don't need him around ANYHOW"...big difference in your critique. Besides, where do you get your information?
  • Chad from Los Angeles, CaI know Neil Young trying to send a messase about south but, he not even american. He fromm Toronto, Canada
  • Howdy from Tulsa, OkLynyrd Skynyrd was the opening band for Neil Young. At the motel Lynyrd Skynyrd had wild sex parties.
    Lynyrd Skynyrd was entertained by a black man and a white woman while they whipped them with
    "bull whips cracking" "I heard screaming, how long, how long." Neil Young told them "don't forget
    what the good book says." Lynyrd Skynyrd became popular enough that they "don't need him around
    anymore" Listen to ALL the words of Neil's song. Neil is a very good man. Lynyrd Skynyrd got a
    little too wild for their britches and the big man in the sky slowed them down.
  • Evan from Slidell, LaActually, In Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama", the reference to Governor Wallace was negative. "In Birmingham they love the governor, BOO, BOO, BOO, but we all did what we could do." The idea that they "came up with it as a response" is also quite foolish, as musicians normally do not sit around and think about way to "not take it lying down." You make Lynyrd Skynyrd sound like a group of renegades looking for a way to get back the county sheriff for locking them up, when in fact they are musicians who were writing a song. Notice how Mussel Shores is mentioned (an early recording site for skynyrd before joining up with MCA Records) and how only one verse is about Neil Young. Also, It is LYNYRD SKYNYRD, for those of you who don't know how to spell.
  • Jon from Cookeville, TnHere is the funny thing about this whole problem. I am from the south, born and raised, I hunt, and fish just like so many of the people in the south.However, I see both sides of this argument. I see people who would sit around with their white buddies and make jokes that include the "N" word, and they would act very racist. these people are also the same ones who would never say things like that to the face of an African American. this is relevant here because,again, while i am from the south, i think its funny to hear people from the south take offense to this song becaus this man is not from the south, and whatever. Regardless, racism, bigotry, etc. are all wrong. and they are and were still present. In the North, in the south and everywhere. this offends people from the south, however, like a previous poster said, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Neil Young were friends, and Skynyrd, led by Van Zant, wrote many progressive songs for southern rock of their time, things like "that smell", and Saturday Night Special werent examples of Skynyrd getting up on stage and telling stories to sound cool, but instead to warn people of the dangers involved in some of the things that they had done and seen.
  • Frank from Brampton, Ontario, CanadaThis tune is about severe racism against African-American slaves in the South and how whites keep on taking advantage of them. I think he was trying to send a message to Lynard Skynard. Well... LS didn't like it and weren't going to take it lying down. So they came up with "Sweet Home Alabama" in response to it.
  • Jake from Birmingham, AlHey Richard, de facto segregation is not rampant in the south, and i dont care if u have citations from some internet article on the subject, if u dont live in the south then u cant possibly know about the subject.
  • Trish from Oshawa, CanadaGet over it. Neil Young wrote this song when there was indeed racial tension in the Southern United States in the 60's and early 70's. That was then and this is now. Great songs (both of them) but they're really old and mean nothing now. Forget about it.
  • Evan from Slidell, LaAlex, some of your points are valid, but others are overgeneralized. Anyone who believes that Segregation (de facto or otherwise) is still "rampant" throughout the South is quite mistaken. There may be a few areas, but believe me, you CAN be a Southerner and not be racist! But yeah, just go ahead with your "rampant" overgeneralizations.
  • Craig from Melbourne, AustraliaThis and Alabama are powerful songs. While this makes mention of the past, Alabama was very much set in the time it was written. So i guess, circa 1970-72 Neil hadnt seen much difference in southern attitudes. The line in Alabama "Your Cadillac, has one wheel in the ditch and one wheel on the track" kinda says it all.
  • Q from Srh, AlAlex from Houston, Tx maybe you should learn about Skynyrd befor you go and call them racist. The line 'in Birmingham they love the govenor' which was talking about George Wallace was meant to be sarcastic and the back up singers followed the line up with 'fool, fool, fool'.
  • Richard from Washington Dc, DcUmm Vinnie, you clearly don't know what you are talking about. Racism is still abundant in the south. De Facto Segregation permeates the region. Racism is still a huge problem.

    Also, if you are posting on here you should know that Racism was a huge problem in the South in 1970 when Neil Young wrote this. So I guess he isn't a dumb lunatic. But you might be.
  • Alex from Houston, Tx[cont.]... or the fact that we are simply the most powerful nation in the world in almost every aspect. To Americans, just because we are a great country doesn't mean we can ignore our faults. America has problems we must face. Past generations didn't make us a great country by not addressing problems. Neil Young was making a point about a problem in the United States. Any person who is so consumed by nationalism that they are willing to overlook all the faults of the USA is an idiot. Every country has faults. It is how they deal with them that dictates a country's success.
  • Alex from Houston, TxOkay people, several things. One, you can't be racist against the South. This should be obvious. Southerners are not a race, so you can't be racist against them. For another thing, Lynyrd Skynyrd said, "We love the governor" in Sweet Home Alabama, referring of course to George Morris, who said "Segregation today... segregation tomorrow... and Segregation forever" so I think they are just a touch racist. Maybe. Southern Man was written in 1970 when racism was still rampant across the south. It may be less now, but racism was undeniably part of the South. Neil Young wrote it as a response to the neoconfederate movement and used a historical metaphor to get his point across. That's all the point is. It's a metaphor. Let me say that again. It's a metaphor. Everybody knows slaves aren't around any more in the South. And yes, the neoconfederates were around back then. It took more than a century for the South to get over the Civil War they lost (even now there are still some I see who are neoconfederates). And guess what? Neil Young was right. "Southern change gonna come at last." The South underwent a huge economic and social change during the 70s when they turned from rural society to the sun belt industrialized world. They shed the neoconfederate personality to take on the redneck persona which was immortalized by country music. To the Brit vs. USA people in here, look. America is the greatest country on earth. Look at our GDP if you don't believe me, or the f
  • Evan from Slidell, Laand hey tom and jim, defending myself against neil young's racism makes me racist against.... who now? I'm confused at that point....
  • Evan from Slidell, LaWell, I think Neil Young needs to stop living in the past. I'm sorry, but it's not my fault the Africans were enslaved. Not my fault hideous people like the KKK burn crosses. "When will you pay them back?" uhh.... why do I have to pay someone back for something I didn't have any part of?!? Well maybe Neil should've called his song, Racist man. Only 5% of southerners EVER owned slaves.... so uh... Neil.... what do you have to say about the other 95%? Well since he calls his song, Southern Man, I guess he just wants to overgeneralize.
  • Vinnie from Los Angeles, CaThere's no discrimination in Alabama. As a matter of fact, there's no discrimination in America. Everybody's treated equally and all the people have the same opportunities. I don't see any sense in Young's lyrics. He's probably a dumb lunatic.
  • Greg from Vancleave, Mswindle from montgomery your cool.i live in vancleave,MS and every here love being in the south
  • Ash from Charleston, WvOh, by all means, Sir Marcus, please educate me. I would just to love to hear your version of history, which apparently leaves out all reference to hundreds of years worth of conflict and strife between Catholics and Protestants. My comments were a direct response to those of Keith in London. He was admonishing the United States for still harboring Civil War-related resentments while completely overlooking resentments still held by his own countrymen which began long before our Civil War. If you want to complain about people criticizing other people on this website, then bitch about what Keith said. At the risk of sounding like an eight year old, "he started it!" I very much look forward to your response.
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScUm Matthew, Lynyrd Skynyrd's song was released after Neil Young's song, and "sweet Home Alabama" was a response to both "Alabama" and "Southern Man."
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScEven though I'm from the south, this song doesn't offend me. This is because, I know not all people who live or were born in the South think that way.
  • Marcus from Crowthorne, EnglandAsh in Charleston, If you're just going to post messages to criticise people, maybe you should try to learn a bit of history. Your reference has no link whatsoever to the content of the original post.
  • Fyodor from Denver, CoI can understand why southerners might be insulted by this song. It employs what might be called a "broad brush." Obviously not all southerners are guilty of racism. Young may (or may not; more on that later) have been aware of that, but the song doesn't make that clear, it doesn't make a distinction. Should it? I don't think so, because it would have made the song boring! At the risk of seeming disengenuous, I think songs (and art in general) should be interpreted in a different manner than, for instance, an essay, where the author has more leeway to express exactly what he thinks and feels without regard to aesthetics and meter (or at least not the same type of regard). Everything should be interpreted in its proper context. Yes, Young was being insenstive in his means of expression, but it was still the best means to make his point, politically and musically. I know of a more obscure song called "I Hate America" made by some Brits. I'm American, but I'm not insulted because I know they're not singing about me. But if a song critical of Israel addressed Jews, it might be a messier matter. You have to take such cases on a case by case basis. I was barely old enough to remember, but people in the north did sometimes look at the south back in that time as a wholly evil place, almost like Nazi Germany (of course, not all Germans at that time were Nazis, either!) and perhaps a bit of that sentiment permeates Young's song. It's hard to say, since as I say, the song doesn't make its position on the matter clear. But if so, it would be wrong, strictly speaking. But, so...? Ancient Greeks argued about this, whether art should always be good or could it be evil sometimes. That said, perhaps a song decrying bigotry should be held to a higher standard than to commit its own form of bigotry? Perhaps. At the least, it's ironic. But again, I look at music and art differently. This song reflects the anger the author and many others at the time felt about racism and about a region where it seemed especially tolerated and rampant, and it's a meaningful sentiment to me, regardless of whether it holds to the strict standards of fairness I might expect from someone expressing himself in a less artistic context. Bottom line, I'm aware that not all southerners were or are racist as well as that racism was not and is not unique to the Southern US, and thus I'm sympathetic up to a point to southerners who are pissed at this song for not making that clear. But I still like the song! Sue me if you like. (So, was Young being even more insensitive to Southern Woman by excluding her, or was he being gallant to leave her out of it? Nah, Southern Man just sounded better!!)
  • Jack from Portland, OrAlright everyone, calm down, Neil Young did not right this to trash the South, he wrote this to get the point across how racism and discrimination throughout the world needs to stop, he could of picked anywhere to write about, but he chose the most obvious choice...The South.
  • Rob from Nashville, TnRacism is found throughout the US and the World,now,and even back in the '60s or whatever.Young could have easily targeted New York,San Fransisco,or any other city not apart of Dixie,but they aren't as well known as racist cities.However,Young went for the easy and well known target,the South,which he talks about things which are true,and maybe a bit exaggerated to get a point across.

    Of course,if Neil waited a few years,he could probably have made a song like this one about the Black Panthers.
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, CaLaura from NY, when did your friend see the concert? It may have been a lynyrd skynyrd concert in the 80's or after.
  • Juney from Chattanooga, TnI think that the only people who are truly offended by this song are the "Southern Men" about whom Neil was singing. As far as Racism in the south, I dont know what you people are trying to deny, I see racism almost everday, and as much as people deny it, there are tons of ignorant rednecks out there that are still very racist. And just because 'a southern man doesnt need Neil Young around anyhow' doesnt mean that what neil was saying is any less true. In my opinion, Neil made the right move in writing this song
  • Mary from L.a., CaIn response to the comment that Neil Young is white, my understanding is that he is also part Native American.
  • Jim from Kansas City, KsI think that Neil was right making "Southern Man". It is a hit to racism not to southerners. If southerners are against this song, are they trying to protect their racist beliefs? This only feeds more into the stereotype that southerners are racists.
  • Tom from Nfld, MnIt is farcical that southerners should get mad at such a song. After all, Neil is not insulting, or challenging southerners at all; he is singing about the racism. For southerns to defend themselves after a song like that is inconsequently racist.
  • Bobo from Amarillo, TxI think the song is racist against southern people. What gives Neil Young the right to trash the south? Omar says it is Young talking about the old south before Neil's time. Then what is he doing talking about something he has not experienced. Listen to the song. I don't hear where he was there nor had any knowledge of what happened then. Other than what he made up.

    I am a southern man and I dont need Neil Young around anyhow.
  • Windle from Montgomery, Almike from toronto... have you ever been to the south... one black man hanging in a tree.. PLEASE.. stuff like this has happened all over the every culture. I love Alabama and the south, and nobody I know ever hung anybody or was a racist. Why don't all you northern folks get off our back.. we can't undo what people who lived here before us did. No one I know, friends or family is a racist. From now on keep your "Racist" comments about the south to yourself. Better Yet...come on down and visit a while and you'll be better informed.
  • Mike from Toronto, CanadaA thousand songs about Alabama still won't tell the whole story of one black man hanging from a tree.
  • James from Johnson City, TnHey I heard a version of this song and it was acoustic and the beginning had like slave chain gang songs being sung. Has anyone else heard it? IF you have where can i find it?
  • Justin from Hong Kong, Hong KongRe: Matthew, NY, NY.
    Neil Young couldn't have written "Alabama" on Harvest as an answer to "Sweet Home Alabama" because "Harvest" was released in 1972 and "Sweet Home Alabama" by Lynyrd Skynyrd was on the "Second Helpings" LP released in 1974.
    Hong Kong
  • Jules from Guelph, CanadaAhem, you are all forgetting that Neil Young is CANADIAN and so to him, everyone in the States is a Southern Man !
    so nuff civil war nonsense 'kay?
    (He may live in the US but he was raised Canadian)
  • Ross from Atlanta , Hithere are rumors that Skynyrd lead singer Ronnie Van Zandt was buried in a Neil Young T-shirt
  • Joe from Airdrie, Canadathis song is not to attack all southerners especially at this time. like erik(CA) wrote there was alot of racism and slavery in 1800's. people that are offended by this song have no reason to be. john, what gives you the right to say what you said.
  • Ash from Charleston, WvOh, and Keith in London? Yeah, it's all just peace and love over there, huh? That whole Protestant/Catholic thing is just a bunch of hype I guess???
  • Ash from Charleston, WvNo, not uhl sutherners ar rasist, butt thay sher dont spel to good.
  • Clay from Chatsworth, CaYoung based this song on an experience he had when he was in Buffalo Springfield. During that time Young and the rest of Buffalo were made fun of as "Long haired hippies" and almost came to blows with Southern teenagers in a stoppover in Mississippi.
  • Jeff from Hamden, Cti am a blackman,who is happy neil young wrote that song.i feel he is a brave man, and a man who understands the pain that black people have to live with generation after generation. i feel the song was written for a hundred years from now!!!!
  • Keith from London, EnglandOk as a Brit I want to raise a few issues about this song. In England we had a civil war, but after a few generations we forgave each other. So, why is it that in 'the greatest nation on earth' you can't do the same? The country that recognized Hendrix; gave you Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin, The Stones and the Beatles listen to music for its quality, not for its motives. Why don't you realise how amazing 'Sweet home Alabama's' intro riff is and the 'southern man' guitar break are!?
  • Caroline from Chicago, Ilok john like the people before me who gives YOU the right to say what neil has the right to write or not? the last time i checked (ok well maybe before bush became president) america has the right to free speech correct me if im wrong but im pretty sure free speech existed in the 60's. and just because hes not black doesnt mean he cant express his feelings about something. if im outraged by apartheid i cant write a song/poem whatever about it cause im not black?
  • Katie from Pittsburgh, PaNeil Young and Lynyrd Skynyrd were big fans of each other and friends too. Some people need to do their research before posting incorrect comments. Geez!! And while he MAY have screamed, "F U, Neil Young," their rivalry was no more than a good-natured joke.
  • Erik from Oc, CaAnd John i have no respect for you I mean you think that all these intolerable acts committed by KKK and racists should not be written down in song by a white man. Evil will triumph when good men look away from times like this.
  • Erik from Oc, CaJohn from North Carolina get your head out of your ass. First off this song has nothing to do with the 60s it takes place in the past. I mean you guys Young is talking about racist southerners from past times that did horrible things, he is not trying to put down Southerners as a whole. If you take it that way then you'd have to live in the 1800's to be offended. I can understand how you can be upset about how he uses the term, "Southern Man" but you have to be able to understand what he's trying to communicate, that southern men were extremely racist in the times Young talks about. Now if you think southern man is racist its because you obviously dont know history. Also if you're a southerner you should not take offense to this song because it uses "Southern Man" for artistic purposes and strength in imagery. It is purely his choice as a writer and this song should not be taken offensively unless your a racist hick.
  • Omar from London, EnglandNeil Young wrote S'outhern man' and 'Alabama' far before Lynard Skynard released 'Sweet Home Alabama'.
    The lyrics of the latter are pretty harsh since they directly attack neil young ("I hope neil young will remember a southern man don't need hime around anyhow")..
    Actually 'sweet home' can be seen as a propaganda song aiming to say that everything was fine in alabama : which is a big lie, neil young was right to criticize racism and alabama people should'nt be so touchy about it. It is a fact that black people were forbidden their civil rights untill recently in the south.
    Neil Young is a fantastic songwriter.
  • Pj from Sherwood Park, CanadaI don't think that Neil meant to hurt anyone with the creation of this song. However he does incorporate some very strong words to put across certain ideas in the song, which is important I guess.
  • Emma from Trumbull, United Statessorry kids, alabama was not written in response to sweethome alabama, sweet home was written to respond to both alabama and southern man. also, i dont really think you can be racist to someone of the south. perhaps predjudice, or hateful towards, but rasicsm isn't really apporporiate. dont just throw that word around. its pretty harsh
  • John from Triangle , Nci dont really think Young had the right to write this song. back in the 60s, alot of black people wrote songs and poems about how evil and bad white people are, in the process of recognizeing and dealing with their oppressors.the poems were offensive and rash and inaccurate, but with reason. these poems were talking about white people as a whole, just as southern man talks about people from the south. but neil, being white, was not oppressed by "a southern man" in the same way black people were. if neil is going to be so inaccurate and sterotypical and write a song about southern men being racist, he ought to write one about himself being racist since he is white.
  • The Prynce from Dillon / Hamer, ScThis song is a bit racist in itself to Southern men. Not all of them are ready to go lynch anyone. Not all Southernors are racist. Hell, plenty of them aren't! And the ones that are aren't to a point that they'd actually treat a black person bad, they'd just make comments about not liking them behind their backs.

    Trust me. I see it all the time.

    -=The Prynce
  • Ryan from Winston-salem, NcActually, Jim, your comment just proves how little you know about Skynyrd and the South. For a southern rock band, they were progressive-thinking. Ever hear the song "Saturday Night Special"? It's an anti-handgun song. How well do you think that went over in the deep south?
  • Brian from Grand Forks, NdActually, Matthew...

    The Soung Alabama came from the Album Harvest and it was released (FEB 1972)... Sweet Home Alabama from Skynyrd came off of Second Helping and that was released (APR 1974)...

    So, Neil actually wrote 2 songs on the subject before Van Zant and crew answered with Sweet Home Alabama...
  • Jefferson from Nekoosa, WiThis whole thing is similar to the east coast west coast rap wars that were raging. People laying down diss in their songs, and writing responces to them.
  • Matthew from New York, NyNeil Young later wrote the song "Alabama" on Harvest as an answer to "Sweet Home Alabama". Listen to that song--I don't think Neil Young took Skynard's song lightly.
  • Matt from Cranford, NjNeil Young was actually on the toilet in the dressing room when he came up with the chord progression and vocal melody.
  • Jim from St Louis, MoLynyrd Skynyrd just proves how close to the mark Young hit it on "Southern Man"...
  • Laura from Fort Worth, TxMy friend happened to go to a concert where Lynard Skynard was performing. Apparently the band no longer sees "Sweet Home Alabama" as a good natured payback. When the lead singer sang the line, "I hope Neil Young will remember...", he shouted "F**K YOU, NEIL YOUNG!" after finishing the line.
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